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SA SOCCER NEWS
Benni and Quinton set for showdown 24/02/04
Benni McCarthy looks to have regained favour with his employers at FC Porto and looks set to be part of the squad which squares up to Manchester United in a Uefa Cup clash in Porto on Wednesday evening.

McCarthy was relegated to training with the Portuguese team's reserves last week after spending a night on the town, but made a comeback to the first team in their game against Guimarães, when he came off the bench to earn a penalty which he converted himself for his 14th goal of the season.

The former Bafana Bafana striker is likely to come up against fellow Capetonian, Quinton Fortune, who turned out for the Red Devils in their disappointing 1-1 draw against Leeds United on the weekend.

Alex Ferguson has reverted Fortune from his natural midfield role into a left back, which means he could becoming up directly against McCarthy - if the latter decides to use the full width of the field and drift on to the right flank.

This will be the first time the two players have played against each other since they were 11-year-olds playing for teams in Hanover Park (McCarthy) and Kewtown (Fortune).

The last time Porto and Manchester United met was in 1997, when United thrashed Porto 4-0, but the English team will be expecting a much tougher test this time around against last season's treble cup winners (domestic champions, Portuguese and Uefa Cups), and McCarthy is confident his team can come out tops in the two-legged affair.

"If we beat Manchester United, we will get more recognition than beating a smaller team. People will notice our players and brilliant coach, Jose Mourinho.

"Of course we are all happy and nobody wants to leave Porto, but we can't pretend there are not bigger clubs," he is reported as saying in the Cape Times.

The former Seven Stars and Ajax Amsterdam star acknowledges that his team face a tough test to advance to the next round, especially with Old Trafford having become somewhat of a European fortress for the current English Premiership champions as they have gone unbeaten for three years in the Uefa Cup at their home ground.

"Everybody knows it's impossible to win at Old Trafford, but over two legs we can do what Real Madrid did last season - beat Manchester at home and be strong at Old Trafford.

"They have great players like Fortune, Scholes, Giggs, Van Nistelrooy and Keane, but we have a real winning mentality here."

Although McCarthy seems to be enjoying his time in Portugal, he has made it clear in the past that he would love a move to England (deals with Middlesbrough, Manchester City and Aston Villa all fell through), and tomorrow's game will give him an opportunity to showcase his skills at the highest level.

The game kicks off at 9:45pm South African time on Wednesday evening.

 


 

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